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GOP Budget Takes Aim at The Environmental Issue Country Thinks Is Most Important

David Beckman

Posted February 17, 2011

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The Republican budget proposal being debated in Congress right now would slash funding for many programs that safeguard public health and the environment.  These cuts and other outright bans on certain EPA activities would stop the agency from doing its job in countless ways, chief among them: reducing water pollution. 

My colleagues have blogged in detail here and here about what these cuts would do to our system of safeguarding waterways.  Safe to say, the Republican anti-clean water attacks have the look and feel of a feeding frenzy, with everyone flapping around and jostling to make the biggest cut or offer the most sweeping restriction on the EPA’s clean water power. 

These attacks are bad policy.  But they are also tone deaf and totally out-of-touch with what solid majorities of Americans care deeply about:  clean water.

In a 2009 Gallup Poll, nearly 60 percent of Americans ranked the pollution of drinking water as their most pressing environmental concern. Indeed, all the top four concerns voters selected were related to water—pollution of rivers and lakes, contamination of water from toxic waste, and adequate supply of freshwater for America’s households.

These water issues outstripped concerns about air pollution, endangered species, and climate change.

That’s because Americans have a deep and abiding love of water—the beaches we swim in, the rivers and lakes we fish in, and the clean drinking water that comes out of our taps.  We also want to protect our children's health--and our own.

The range and depth of this interest and concern extends beyond health and beyond local issues, too.  For example, an astonishing 90 percent of Americans said that the loss of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands in was an important issue to them, according to a 2007 poll by Louisiana State University.

So it’s difficult not to conclude that the House Republican budgets dirty water agenda is pointed at the very heart of Americans' love for the environment.  That's not just poor public policy, but bizarre politics.



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